NEWBURGH — After the City of Newburgh announced it will not provide funding to retain twelve firefighters currently paid through federal investments, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) joined the Newburgh Fire Department to call on the City to reverse course and provide the funding necessary to prevent these layoffs.
Rep. Maloney secured Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants for the Newburgh Fire Department in 2013 and again in 2016, which have allowed the department to hire over 30 firefighters and bring their size-of-force up to an appropriate level.
“For five years, some of us have been working our hearts out to give this firehouse an adequate staffing level to protect the citizens of Newburgh and the surrounding communities – and we’ve been successful for five years,” said Rep. Maloney. “But, we’re coming to the end of the federal support available, and I don’t have a rabbit to pull out of my hat – we need our local leaders to step up, and otherwise, we’re looking at losing twelve firefighters.”
“Sean Maloney has always been there to help. He keeps his office right here in our city. He helped Newburgh avoid layoffs in the past, and I know he’s working on helping the city get through this latest round,” said acting Newburgh Fire Chief Terry Ahlers. “Everyone asks what I think the results of the layoffs will be – I tell them, we already know what the results will be – our small fires will be larger, and it will take longer to get buildings opened up. But, our firefighters will still put themselves in the way of danger, to protect life and property in our city.”
“In the city of Newburgh, if you call 9-11, these guys are there in two to three minutes – that’s an incredible response time, and that’s largely due to the fact that they have decent staffing right now,” said Sam Fresina, President of the New York State Professional Firefighters Association. “We take away that staffing, we’re taking away their ability to do their job correctly – and that’s going to have an effect on every resident of the City of Newburgh.”
“The members of the city of Newburgh Fire Department remain committed to providing the best emergency response possible regardless of staffing levels, to best serve the community,” said Brendan Hogan, President of IAFF local 589.
Since taking office, Rep. Maloney has secured nearly $5 million in federal investments for the Newburgh Fire Department. In 2013, shortly after Rep. Maloney took office, the department applied for its first SAFER grant, but was initially denied. Rep. Maloney then worked with the department to ensure they received their first SAFER grant, which provided $2.4 million to hire fifteen new firefighters. In 2015, when the initial round of funding ran out and the department faced twelve potential layoffs, Rep. Maloney urged FEMA to approve another SAFER grant to prevent a potential round of layoffs and hire six additional firefighters.
In July 2016, Rep. Maloney announced that FEMA had agreed to provide a rarely-awarded second SAFER grant worth $2,061,516 to fund these positions into July 2018. At the end of last year, the City of Newburgh announced that its budget would not include funding to retain a dozen firefighters. If the City does not reverse course, twelve firefighters, including one injured in the Verla fire, will be laid off.
The SAFER program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was created to provide funding directly to local fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to help increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities.
In addition to avoiding lay-offs and adding new firefighters to the job, the two SAFER grants secured by Rep. Maloney have allowed the Newburgh Fire Department to put four firefighters on all trucks, providing unprecedented size-of-force, which has decreased overtime costs and increased public safety across the board. In addition, the SAFER grants have allowed the department to increase its fire prevention services and proactively fight fires before they start.
Rep. Maloney has a track record of getting things done for fire departments throughout the Hudson Valley. Since joining Congress in January 2013, Rep. Maloney has secured nearly $10 million for Hudson Valley fire departments. Over $1 million of this funding has been directed at modernizing equipment, including protective gear, at fire districts in the Hudson Valley. Rep. Maloney also hosts an annual workshop in Newburgh to help local fire departments effectively apply to grants through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.